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Zines in Libraries


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Slides from a Powerpoint presentation on building zine collections in libraries. Offers insight on the opportunities and challenges in zine collection development as well as links to resources for …

Slides from a Powerpoint presentation on building zine collections in libraries. Offers insight on the opportunities and challenges in zine collection development as well as links to resources for learning more about zines and zine culture.

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  • 1. Zines in Libraries
    Developing a collection of independent and alternative press materials
  • 2. What are zines?
    “Underground,” counterculture magazines
    that typically are printed, cheap, often given
    away, and rarely profitable, self-published
    as voices of individuality and dissent by
    people committed to self-expression.
    - Berman, 2005
  • 3. Zine collections can be found in many kinds of libraries:
    Barnard College (NYC)
    Portland Public Library (OR)
    Linebaugh Public Library (Murfreesboro, TN)
    Winchester High School (MA)
    Plymouth Regional High School (NH)
    Salt Lake City Public Library (UT)
  • 4. Developing a zine collection is (sort of) like using open-source software.

    a small zine collection
  • 5. How so?
    Zine collections are inexpensive (up-front) and offer unique benefits…but also require more staff time and planning than traditional collections.
    Aspiring zine librarians must do a lot of work themselves, instead of relying on vendors and the usual reviewing sources.
    Librarians have a great deal of flexibility in establishing a zine collection well-suited to their particular library.
  • 6. Why develop a zine collection?
    Diversity of collection: zines provide a way to include unique and unpopular viewpoints in the library collection.
    Literacy and information literacy: the generally short length and informal tone of zines may encourage reluctant readers.
    An affordable way to attract new patrons to the library (patrons who already like to read and write)
    Zines can add to your collection of local materials.
    Provides an easy springboard for programming with kids and YAs.
  • 7. Challenges
    Zines rarely meet the standards of “quality literature” – not from a reputable publisher, not edited, don’t always cite sources – the librarian has to decide.
    Language and content may be controversial, especially if your collection is aimed at kids and YAs.
    The physical materials and their topics may be very ephemeral, difficult to display and catalog.
  • 8. So you want to start a zine collection?
    Jerianne Thompson from the Linebaugh Library in Murfreesboro, TN, suggests asking the following questions:
    What type of collection do you want?
    Will it circulate?
    Will it have a specific focus?
    Will you catalog the collection?
    How will you process and shelve?
    How will you buy them?
  • 9. How to Order Zines for Your Library: Zine Distros
    Distributors (aka “distros”) let you order multiple zines at once.
    Nearly all offer descriptions (and sometimes reviews)of the zines they sell.
    Some take credit cards, which might make reimbursement easier.
    A thorough list (with recommendations) available here:
    Zine World List of Stores and Distros
  • 10. Local Zine Resources
    Brick-and-mortar stores:
    Bluestockings (East Village, NYC) – 172 Allen St. (near Houston St.)
    Wooden Shoe Books (Philadelphia) – 704 South St. (between 7th and 8th St.)
    Zine Fests:
    Philly Zine Fest:
    NY Anarchist Bookfair:
  • 11. Online Resources
    Sources for Zine Reviews:
    Zine World (Reader’s Guide to the Underground Press)
    Library Journal(occasional)
    Broken Pencil (mostly Canadian, some US)
    Radical Reference: Alternative Library Collections
    Places to Download Zines:
    Queer Zine Archive Project (QZAP)
  • 12. Zines in the Library Literature
    Bartel, J. (2004). From A to Zine: Building a Winning Zine Collection in your Library. Chicago: American Library Association.
    Berman, S. (2005). Berman’s Bag: Cataloging Zines and Widgets. The Unabashed Librarian, no. 137. 23-25.
    Chepesiuk, R. (1997, Feb.). The Zine Scene: Libraries preserve the latest trend in publishing. American Libraries. (68-70).
    Gisonny, K & Freedman, J. (2005). Zines in libraries: how, what, and why? Collection Building, 25 (1). 26-30.
    Hubbard, C. (2005, Nov/Dec.). DIY in the stacks: a study of three public library zine collections. Public Libraries, 44 (6). 351-4.
    Thompson, J. (2007). Zine Rhymes with Teen: How a zine collection can help you connect with young adults. Tennessee Libraries, 57 (1).
    West, J. (2006, Sept.). From Picas to Pixels: Life in the trenches of print and web publishing – an interview with Jenna Freedman, Curator of the Barnard Zine Collection. Serials Review, 32. 266-269.